The changing face of workforce talent

The makeup of the workforce is becoming more global, mobile and independent and less local, rooted in place and loyal long-term to any one employer

Finding and retaining talent for your company or organization used to be relatively straightforward. You inquired about availability of valuable workers from your network, posted job descriptions on widely disseminated job boards, or hired recruiting firms to provide you with temporary or temp-to-hire personnel. Chances were that the true talent discovered was hired and incentives applied to keep them with you for the long haul.

But today forces are at work modifying this process and causing those who source talent to change their game plan. The makeup of the workforce is becoming more global, mobile and independent and less local, rooted in place and loyal long-term to any one employer. To find the talent they need to remain productive, innovative and competitive, employers are having to adjust their methods to find such moving targets.

It isn't just the workforce that is changing. Employers' talent demands reflect the shifts occurring in business, driven by the rapid expansion of global and technical interconnectivity. Businesses increasingly need to dial up and down budgets, priorities, and the size of their workforces quickly and efficiently. Agility is a survival skill.

With that in mind, new types of employee-employer relationships are being formed, often characterized by highly valuable, short-term, project-based connections that are mutually beneficial. The organization gains profitable contributions from their talented associates and the valued participants benefit from career enhancement.

Given the changing nature of business and of employment, both parties are becoming more cognizant of the types of exchanges called for and positioning themselves to make the right connections when needed.

The range of connections goes from fully employed individuals to outsourced service arrangements that satisfy small but critical parts of the larger need. Partnerships, independent contractors and more engaged outsourcers are playing a greater role in how business is done.


Fluid and robust


For the job searcher and those committed to developing their careers, awareness of the ways business and work itself are transforming is crucial. Even though most of us have been brought up to think traditionally about employment — few job changes, development of a single skill and living near your place of employment — a problem arises if we don't see how the other options mentioned above are becoming available, possibly preferred. We are approaching a time, if we are not already there, when to design a career around portfolio-type assignments is as prudent as striving for full-time employment with only a few employers.

Global talent markets with their individual players are as diverse, multifunctional and ready to produce as any talent pool has ever been. The technology that exposes, promotes and defines them, based primarily on a keyword-rich social media model, means that a fluid and robust recruitment industry can play an important role in facilitating valuable connections.

We already see the expanded use of LinkedIn, essentially an international talent database, becoming a primary means of sourcing talent. This and other human-technological applications are sure to boost the effectiveness of employer-employee matchmaking.

The importance of mobility and lack of geographical tethering is also worth noting in the way workforces are evolving. Talent can be secured virtually from anywhere that has an Internet connection. Many projects can be advanced using contributors from a variety of places around the world.

Although physical, face-to-face collaboration certainly has its advantages, it is by no means the only way to produce at a high-functioning level. Cost alone may sometimes dictate that remote collaboration be activated.

A “flatter” operational arrangement seems to be one way of describing the changing face of the workforce. Businesses need talent, and talent need businesses. This has always been true, but what may be different this time is that the parties are on a more equal footing. A clever and spry talented professional has a greater chance of experiencing a lithe career when he or she can negotiate with potential employers from what may be becoming an enhanced power position.

Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, is a regular blogger on NHBR Network. He can be reached at 603-724-2289 or

Categories: Workplace Advice